Electronic Dog Fencing
Restrain a Dog with Invisible Pet Fence

Electronic dog fencing, also known as invisible dog fencing, may be the ultimate solution for dog owners who for one reason or another can't install a traditional fence.

Whether you feel that traditional fencing is too expensive or cannot install one because your homeowner's association prohibits them, an invisible fence will keep Rover out of harm's way when he lives near a busy street and is at risk of being run over.

There are several different types of invisible pet fences on the market and it is important to learn exactly how they work so to better understand the pros and cons of each type of fencing.

We'll cover each type in detail, including their advantages and disadvantages, in a moment but first…

What is an Electronic Dog Fence?

An electronic dog fence is an outdoor containment system meant to prevent a dog from escaping. Unlike traditional fencing which encompasses a visible barrier, an electronic fence is for the most part unseen by the eye because it is often buried underground.

Dogs learn how to respect the boundaries of the fence through a receiver worn on the dog's collar which emits a mild electric shock when the dog trespasses the boundary.

Invisible Fence

What are the Benefits of Installing an Invisible Pet Fence?

From a dog owner's prospective, electronic dog fencing is an easy way to prevent a dog from escaping.

Also among some of the pros of using invisible fences is the fact that an invisible pet fence is much more affordable than putting up a traditional fence. The installation is quite easy if you are experienced in landscaping or well versed in do-it-yourself projects.

Another thing to keep in mind is that traditional fences may not always offer the best solution when it comes to preventing your dog from escaping. Some dogs are able to jump over them or escape through some small gaps. Almost all dogs love to dig and many do just that... right under the fence! Not to mention the fact that it is easy to forget and leave a gate open at times!

Often, an electronic fence may prove to be more reliable than a traditional fence. But best of all, most dogs learn to respect the boundary lines fairly quickly.

How does Electronic Dog Fencing Work?

Electronic fences may work differently, depending on the make and model. While most electronic fences work by delivering a mild electric shock, some emit ultrasound or a combination of shock and ultrasound that alerts the dog as he approaches the boundary. Some of the latest models may even deliver a spray of citronella.

There are two types of solutions when it comes to marking your property's boundaries: you may need to bury a wire, generally between 1 to 3 inches under the surface of the yard, or you may skip the digging and choose a wireless option instead.


Both of the above options require the dog to always wear a special collar to prevent him from escaping.

It is important to mention that the use of electronic dog fencing would not be complete without training. Your dog will need to learn where his new boundaries are and how to avoid trespassing that area.

With your guidance, your dog should learn these basics in a few days. Flags or stakes will be needed during the first weeks so to give your dog a visual aid about his new boundaries. Your dog must also learn that the beeping noise is alerting him that he is getting too close to the boundary line and that he can avoid the shock by retreating.

Wired or Wireless? Which One is Better?

If you are debating on which type of electronic dog fencing to purchase, it will help to learn some pros and cons of each type.

For instance, wired electronic dog fencing may require some work for the installation and this option may be more costly; however, it is also true that this type of fence works better over greater distances.


Some versions of wired fences also come with a wireless receiver than can be used both outdoors and indoors.

Wireless fences, on the other hand, are easier to set up and are a more cost-effective solution, but they have a tendency of having imprecise boundaries. Obstructions such as slopes, trees and metal objects may interfere with their correct functioning.

Most wireless systems consist of a centrally located invisible fence transmitter that sets a circular boundary. This type of system is most suitable for small yards or an indoor use. However, a big advantage is that this wireless system is portable; therefore, you can bring it not only indoors but wherever you need to go.

Several companies, including Petsafe icon and Dogtra, offer wired and wireless electronic fences. I've personally used the Petsafe invisible fence in the past and was satisfied with the results.

Here are 2 brief videos. The first one demonstrates how to set-up a PetSafeĀ® Wireless Dog Fence icon and the second explains how to install a wired system.

Cons of Electronic Fences

While electronic dog fencing may help keep a dog safe, there are some considerations to keep in mind before investing in one.

As with many products, an electronic fence is not fool proof: the batteries may discharge or the system may malfunction. Also, for some sensitive dogs the shock delivered may be perceived aversive enough to cause fear of the yard. In some cases, dogs have learned to associate passing stimuli with shock, increasing the chances for territorial aggression, anxiety and reactivity.

There are also many opponents of electronic dog fencing who consider them ineffective and their use inhumane.

Interestingly, many animal control officers have been picking up stray dogs wearing receivers on their collars. What has happened? In such cases, very likely a stubborn dog may have passed the electronic dog fencing to chase some critter but was then afraid to go back inside in fear of being shocked!

Last but not least, dog owners must consider that an electronic dog fence will not prevent other animals from crossing the boundaries of the invisible fence. Only the dog wearing the special collar will know of its existence. Therefore, if your female dog is in season, you should not be surprised to see a line of Romeos in front of your lawn!

Also keep in mind that people have stolen or abused dogs within the boundaries of an invisible fence.

But despite all the negatives listed above, many dog owners have used an electronic dog fence with success and are happy of their purchase.

Final Thoughts...

An invisible dog fence requires less upkeep and maintenance when compared to a traditional fence. They also allow the luxury of unobstructed views for residents who want to enjoy the surrounding landscape. However, there are also disadvantages in their use such as malfunctioning or creating anxiety in sensitive pets.

If you are considering an alternative to traditional fencing, consider the pros and cons of electronic dog fencing so you can make the best choice.

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If you are a new dog owner and want to learn more about dog behavior and obedience training, I highly recommend you read and follow this Secrets to Dog Training guide. It's written by a professional dog trainer and is full of techniques you can use to modify your dog's behavior.


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